The Federal Government has officially handed over the National Theatre and its surrounding lands to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for restoration, which aims at creating millions of jobs for youths in the country and diversifying the country’s economy.
According to the CBN, the country has the potential of earning $20 billion annually from the creative industry when the edifice is renovated into four pillars, namely information technology, music, film and fashion.
This was disclosed on Sunday, at the handing over ceremony in Lagos.
In attendance were the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Governor of CBN and Chairman, Bankers Committee, Godwin Emefiele; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of of Lagos State; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, among others.
In his remarks, the CBN Governor and Chairman, Bankers Committee, Godwin Emefiele, expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the handing over of the edifice constituting over 132,000 hectares of land.
He said: “The National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, which is being handed over today to the Bankers Committee is expected to serve as the initial pilot for the Nigeria Creative Industries Centre.
“Upon completion in another 18 months, this area would have transformed into Nigeria’s Creative industrial Centre, which will be comparable to other world class entertainment and convention centres in any part of the world.
“Following the completion of the renovation works at the National Theatre, with the supporting facilities that will be built around it, which include a hotel and an expansive conference centre, we intend to set up similar Creative Industries centres in Kano and Port Harcourt.”
According to Emefiele, the handover of the edifice to the CBN/Bankers Committee is indeed timely when one considers the external headwinds facing our economy today.
However, he noted: “With our human capital resources and an enabling environment that will help harness the creative talents of our youths, Nigeria has the potential to earn over $20 billion annually from the creative industry.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the planned restoration and upgrade of the iconic National Theatre would generate about 10,000 jobs during and after the restoration
He said: ‘’Please permit me to start off by making a clarification: this iconic National Theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today.
‘’What we are here to do is to hand over the National Theatre for restoration and upgrade and the fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank and the Bankers’ Committee for development.
‘’The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture holds the keys to the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians,’’
Alhaji Mohammed said the N25 billion project, tagged the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre Project, was a Public-Private Partnership, PPP, that will be executed in two phases, with Phase 1 being the restoration and upgrade of the National Theatre to its glory days at a cost of N7 billion and Phase II, the development of the adjoining fallow land at a cost of N18 billion.
‘’The good news is that this project will not lead to a single job loss. Instead, it will create more. Some 6,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase, while the completed project could generate up to an additional 600 permanent and 2,000 to 3,000 call-on/call-off jobs. This is as good as it gets!’’ he said
The Minister described the handover of the facility as a “historic day in the annals of the Creative Industry in Nigeria,” describing the project was a win-win for all involved
He said: ‘’For over 40 years, no major renovation work has been done on the National Theatre, while the adjoining land has been lying fallow.
‘’Many attempts to restore the National Theatre have failed. And the government has no money to restore the complex. As you know, this is the hub of the Creative Industry in Nigeria.
‘’The National Theatre was established to encourage the advancement of the performing arts throughout the country; to create opportunities for performing artists of the country as well as to aid the promotion of social development and the improvement of the quality of life. In its present state, it is not living to its billing.’’
The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.